I’ve been busy this month, and haven’t had time until now to write comments on “The Brightest Star,” which was a “Short Treks” episode of Star Trek: Discovery. (Yes, there are spoilers. Stop reading now if you don’t want any.)
The episode is about Saru’s origins on the planet Kaminar. Being a Saru fan, I was looking forward to this. What Saru established on Discovery is that his species, the Kelpiens, are a “prey” species, and they’ve evolved abilities as a result, such as the ability to sense danger (and there are “threat ganglia” which fan out from the back of his head when he does).
All this time, I thought that meant there was another intelligent species on Saru’s home planet which hunted them. While I guess this still could have been the case in Kaminar’s past, it isn’t during Saru’s time. Instead, a species called the Baul travel to Kaminar. They do not even beam down to the planet. Instead, in a ritual reminding me of the original Trek episode, “Taste of Armageddon,” Kelpiens just assemble in a certain spot and the Baul beam them up.
The rest of the story is Saru wondering what is out there in space. The Baul accidentally leave some of their technology behind, and Saru sends a signal. Eventually, Lt. Georgiou comes in a shuttle, picks Saru up, and takes him to the Federation.
Thus the debate among fans so far has been whether Georgiou violated the Prime Directive by going to get Saru. Personally, I don’t think so, because of the Next Generation episode “First Contact,” where Picard and co. take someone who wants to leave the planet and let her live in the Federation.
In my opinion, this is the wrong aspect of the Prime Directive to explore. The larger issue, in my opinion, is why the Federation is doing nothing to stop this. This is not 2 species on the same planet, or in the same solar system, preying on each other, in which case one might (though Kirk didn’t) make a case that interference is a violation of the prime directive. This is a case where one species from one solar system goes to another solar system, takes intelligent lifeforms off the planet, and has them for dinner. This is a no-no; more than that, this is an atrocity of the highest magnitude. FFS, doesn’t anyone remember “Journey to Babel” where members of the Federation were in an uproar over their members (and the Orions) doing illegal mining in the Coridon system, and doing everything to stop it? That was mining; this is murder. The Federation should start with sanctioning the Baul’s butts, continue with blockading the Kaminar system, and, if necessary, firing on Baul ships. Citizens of the Federation everywhere ought to be outraged (where the hell is Sarek?).
The writers have said that they know there are questions and those questions will be answered. I certainly hope so!
Later addition: Saru specifically said that the Baul was a predator species on his planet, which I take it to mean the Baul originated there, as did the Kelpians. In that case, the Prime Directive would apply; however, since the Baul apparently have transporter technology, I would think that the application of the Prime Directive would be very tenuous (the Baul may not have warp drive, but they’re close enough to it). In addition, it would seem that Vahar’ai is not a fatal condition, but a transition, loosely analogous to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. That, too (as Saru indicated), changes things.
Even later addition: I was right all along. The Baul have warp capability and the Prime Directive does not apply to them. The Federation should have had the Baul’s butts in a sling long before this. At least they finally come to the conclusion that the Prime Directive doesn’t apply and take action to keep the Kelpiens from being slaughtered.